Top Ten Games of my life, So Far

Everyone has points in their life that are so significant that they completely change the way they think and act. Events so monumental in nature that you can’t ever imagine not having experienced them. Well my top ten games run along those lines.

Ok, so they’re not life changing events but it’s a list of the games that have fueled my enthusiasm, stolen all my time and emptied my wallet over my gaming lifetime…. All 20 years of it.

So in chronological order…

Bomb Jack (arcade) – 1988ish

Top ten gamesBomb Jack was the very first game that I was truly addicted to. I hoarded ten pence pieces like they were gold dust just so I could keep playing this arcade game in my local newsagent. In fact I strongly believe my mum thought ten pence pieces had gone out of circulation, as she mustn’t have seen one for months.

In Bomb Jack you controlled a little caped super-hero called ‘Jack’ who had to diffuse a number of bombs placed around various famous landmarks. For every level all you had to do was jump around a stationary 2d screen, jumping to collect bombs and avoiding the enemy’s patrolling in set patterns. In later levels the enemies became more abundant and quicker, but there was little more to it than that.

By today’s standard it’s doubtful you would even play it as a mobile phone game but back then 24 colours on the screen at the same time was akin to magic.

Magicland Dizzy (Spectrum 128k) – 1990

Top ten gamesWhen Codemasters were in the height of their popularity they realised a franchise of games called Dizzy, which all revolved around the puzzle solving abilities of a walking egg called Dizzy. I bought this on my first computer, the Spectrum 128k. It only had 8 colours, and the chances or more than 3 of those being on the screen at any given time was remote but I played this baby to death. Even the 5-10 minutes of loading time from tape did nothing to sway my enthusiasm but then again all games were like that so you got used to it.

In Magicland Dizzy, your 6 friends (Dylan, Dozy, Dora, Grand-Dizzy, Daisy, and Denzel) had been captured and magically trapped in various magical situations (e.g. in an ice block, or in thorns, or asleep Sleeping Beauty stylee etc.) By picking up and using objects strewn around the landscape, you rescued your friends and saved the day from the evil Wizard Zaks.

There was nothing more to it than that, except it did follow the common (back then) control method of ZX (left, right) KM (Up, down) space for jump, enter to pick up. Which today is just plain weird today.

It cost me £4, and I played it so many times I can’t even begin to remember.

Street Fighter II (Arcade) – 1992ish

Top ten gamesBack in the arcades for this one. Street Fighter II; the franchise that still kicks around these days under a plethora of different names (Street Fighter IV, Alpha, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom etc.) arguably became most popular with it’s release of Street Fighter II in 1992. Well it was for me anyway.

In Street Fighter II you choose one of eight world warriors each with different fighting styles, and special moves (twelve including the bosses which were available in later editions of the game) and took on the other fighters to claim the Street Fighting trophy at the end of the game.

Back then the game required skill if you had it, if not there were always the moves that required little to no skill at all, just mindless and repetitive button bashing like E. Honda’s Hundred-Hand Slap, Blanka’s Electricity or Chun-Li’s Lightning Kick. Once you had those babies going most of the time, you could won….

This game has now been released on nearly every console since. I owned it myself on the Sega Megadrive and Xbox. Incidentally, Street Fighter II Championship Edition on the Sega Megadrive, is the only game responsible for infuriating me so much that I smashed two joypads against a wall in frustration after M Bison kicked my proverbial behind consistently for over an hour.

A classic game that is just if not more popular now than it was then. Not many franchises can say that.

Doom (PC) – 1993

Top ten gamesDoom. One of the original First Person Shooters that has spawned two sequels, a handful of spin-offs over a number of consoles and systems, a movie, and more gamer-created mods / add-ons and patches that anyone can mention.

You play a Marine isolated on a deserted Moon base, who discovers not only a whole range of monsters both demonic and undead who threaten to invade Earth… but also the entrance to the underworld and enough weapons and ammunition to arm a small military invasion of your own.. handy eh? As you make it through the game battling the forces of evil, you venture further and further through hellish dimensions stopping the invasion and saving humanity.

The game-play was simple and it didn’t worry about things like height. If an enemy happened to be much higher or lower than you it didn’t matter, just shoot away in their direction and it would hit them anyway.

One of the best bits about this for me was the ability to make WAD files which would change entire elements of the game from sprites, sounds and level elements through to actually creating your own level or chapter. A lot of games have level editors these days, but the simplicity of the game was mirrored in it’s editor.

SimCity 2000 (PC) – 1994

Top ten gamesThe sequel to the city building classic SimCity. In SimCity 2000 you were the mayor of a new city and given the power to create the city of your dreams. You controlled where people lived, worked and went shopping. How much you spent on education or healthcare. Which power supply you used, how you built your rail/subway network. Of course all the building had to be budgeted for, so you could increase or lower taxes, start ordinances, change city spending on roads, education etc.

SimCity 2000 had improved graphics over SimCity, you could zone in any way you wanted, and the level of micro-management was increased to an almost annoyingly anal level. It was the sheer size of the scope of this game that glued me to the screen till 03:00 in the morning, knowing I couldn’t go to bed until my city was making money again, or I had built my new airport.

Final Fantasy VII (PS1) – 1997

Top ten gamesThe game that sold millions of Sony Playstations. When Final Fantasy VII was released, I think it showed us all just what a well thought-out compelling RPG game should look like.

Final Fantasy VII follows the ex-Shinra soldier Cloud (and a gathered collective of freedom fighters, ex-pilots, intelligent dogs and giant stuffed animals) as he fights for the planet, loves, loses, has a near-death experience, learns more about himself and then saves the world from the ultimate evil.

A game so addictive that I could hardly rest until I had not only completed the game, but found every secret and legendary weapon, and unlocked everyone’s limit break special attacks. I even-spent what seemed like days attempting to raise a golden Chocobo so I could get the ultimate materia ‘Knights of the Realm’. The only thing I was never able to do was defeat the Ruby and Emerald weapons, but seeing as I still play this game over 10 years on, I’m not ruling it out even now.

The graphics have dated a bit due to the relatively low polygon count, hands are simply pink blocks and the animation is rather ropey at best, there isn’t even any voice acting although the odd badly-translated text box still raises a smile. You can easily overlook all of those things due to the incredibly compelling and addictive storyline and game-play.

The Sims (PC) – 2000

Top ten gamesThe life-sim that spawned 2 sequels, several console conversations and more add-ons over the three games than I can even count. In The Sims you take control of a household and everything they do is under your control. Send them to work, get them married, buy a new sofa, go to the toilet. No matter how important or mundane the life decision is, it is up to you what they do in their little simulated lives.

Of course, the irony of spending way too much time in a life-sim wasn’t lost on me but never-the-less huge amounts of my time were again sacrificed to the great god of gaming, all under the guise of The Sims. I played relentlessly and bought every add-on that came out for it. Each one providing a further aspect to the game, whether it would be pets, nightlife or even the ability to become a superstar.

Like all the other PC Sims Games that have succeeded it, The Sims had an incredible wealth of extra content, created by both Maxis but more often than note by other players. Which I suspect was most of it’s appeal, for me. Quite often my households would have Darth Vader, Buffy, a storm trooper, and the cast of friends cavorting together in pixilated domesticity. Where-else can you possibly get to have that level of control?

Star Wars Galaxies (PC) – 2003

The first MMO I ever played, and I’ve written a whole nostalgic review on this. So, rather than repeat myself, here’s a link to it…

Ah, good times…!

Dragon Age: Origins (PC) – 2009

Top ten gamesProbably the biggest RPG highlight of recent years. Bioware really raided the Fantasy RPG fridge for this, to provide us with such a rich and overflowing banquet of Sword-and-Sorcery goodness. OK, now that strained metaphor’s out of the way, Dragon Age tells the story of one of the last Grey-wardens; Warriors who are imbued with the power of demons, duty bound to fight and save the world from the Darkspawn (the dark twisted remnants of evil that plague the world and threaten to destroy mankind)

You choose your character from one of three races and one of three classes. This character will then have his or her own unique storyline introduction chapter which teaches you the basics of the game and will also explain how they came to be a Grey Warden. This is a nice touch and helps to make every new character choice different from the last one. Of course, with all the different quests, conversation options and choices to take through-out the game, you would have to try really heard to get a game exactly the same anyway

The graphics are gorgeous and the sound’s are rich and inviting. You can never hear yourself of course, but all the other people you speak to are fully voiced as well as background conversations.

This also ranks high as it is one of the very few games that I have completed multiple times. In most cases, due to my incredibly low attention span, games fall by the wayside within a few weeks (or in some cases days and hours). So far I have complete Dragon Age: Origins at least 5 or 6 times. Trying out various characters and options.

Plus, as soon as it even got remotely un-interesting Bioware would release some down-loadable content and ‘Whoosh’ my enthusiasm was sky-high again.

World of Warcraft (PC) – 2004-2010

Top ten gamesThere probably aren’t many gamers out there who haven’t crossed paths with this one. Released in 2004 it was a veritable torrent of new and exciting fresh air. The gaming it provided was so large, expansive and new that getting 3 hours a sleep a day was practically a luxury.

This game was Fantasy RPG’ing embodied. Everything I could possibly want was there in one handy ever increasing package.

And probably still is…

Of course my enthusiasm has waned in recent months, I find that the content has become very so-so and the only thing there is to do is increase your gear as much as you can before it all becomes pointless in the next add-on and you have to start all over again.

I am certainly looking around for my next big game at the moment, and to be honest I suspect it is going to be Dragon Age II… although only time will tell.

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Jim Franklin
Jim Franklin

Jim Franklin is a freelance writer, living in Derby UK with his wife and his player 3. When time allows he likes nothing more than losing himself in a multi-hour gaming session. He likes most games and will play anything but prefers MMO's, and sandbox RPG's.

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